Excerpt from “ History of the Pathans”
by, Brig.(R) Haroon Rashid

Abdur Rahman Baba
The famous poets, Abdur Rahman Baba and Abdul Hamid belonged to the Baezi division of the Mahmand tribe, though to different subclans. Abdur Rahman dwelt in the village of Hazar Khani in the tappa or district of the Mahmands. He was a man of considerable learning, but lived the life of a 'Darvesh’, absorbed in religious contemplation separated from the world. He held no greater interaction than necessary with the people that the means of subsistence demanded. He is said to have been passionately fond of hearing religious songs Qawalis like the Chishtiya School of thought.

After sometimes, he started composing poetry and odes. He became a strict recluse and was generally found by his friends in tears. Indeed, he is said to have been in the habit of weeping so much, that in the course of time it produced wounds on both his cheeks. His strict retirement, however, gave opportunity to a number of envious Mullahs to belie him, and they began to spread rumours to the effect, that Rahman had turned atheist or heretic, since he never left his dwelling and had even given up offering prayers at the mosque along with the congregation. At length, on the advice and assistance of some of his friends, he agreed in future, to attend the mosque and to pray and perform his other religious duties, along with the members of the congregation. He thus, whether agreeable to himself or not, was obliged in some measure to mix with the world. About that time he said the following odes of which English translation is given below:

I am ever sitting, with heart dried up, in the moisture of my tears: Love showed unto me, in my own retreat, both ocean and land. Like as when, with my lips, I kissed the wound of thy sword, I have never since, from any salve, such soothing experienced. Majnun, that laid his- Head at the feet of Layla his beloved, Became exalted in Arabia and in all foreign lands. The powerful will always be triumphant over the weak; And I am preserved from other misery by my grief for thee. Like unto myself, for thee, thus in wretchedness overwhelmed, Of the whole race of Adam there will be no other similar. Like as a carcass that may be fallen amongst the living In such wise am I, whilst in it, separated from the world. From the breathings of the charmers I obtain no alleviation; For this reason, indeed, that my breath is dependent on thine. I have neither inquiry nor research to make, save after thee: Thou art my object every moment and at every step. Should it be my good fortune to obtain the platters of thy dogs, I would no more cast mine eyes, even upon Jamshed's cup. So completely have I gambled away my heart upon thy curls, As when a little button falleth, and in murky darkness, is lost. All ensanguined in blood, like unto red roses hang, A thousand hearts in every ringlet of thy curly hair. I, RAHMAN, withdrawn from the world, was happy indeed; But looking towards thee, hath brought man's censure on me.

It is said that Rahman Baba used to give copies of his poems to his friends, who compiled these into a collection (diwan) after his death. And that some of his friends added to his collections some of their own poems, which were later on detected and removed and only Rahman Baba poetry was compiled into a single volume.

Some authorities regard Abdur Rahman to have been a contemporary with the warriorpoet, Khushhal Khan Khattak and it has been stated, that on two or three occasions they held poetic disputations together. This, however, cannot be true; for it seems that although Rahman Baba was lived towards the latter part of that Khattak chieftain's life, he was a mere youth and was, more correctly speaking of a contemporary of Afzal Khan, the grandson and successor of Khushhal Khan Khattak and the author of that rare, excellent and extensive Afghan history, entitled, "TarikhiMurassa" and other valuable works. A proof of the incorrectness of this statement is, that the tragic end of Gul Khan and Jamal Khan, which Rahman Baba and the poet Hamid also have devoted a long poem to, took place in the year of 1123-H (1711 A.D), twentyfive years after the death of Khushhal Khan Khattak. Another, and still stronger proof against the statement of poetic disputations having taken place between them, is the fact of Rahman's retired life and his humble position, as compared with that of Khushhal Khan, the chief of a powerful tribe and as good a poet as himself.

Some descendants of Rahman Baba, on his daughter's side, dwell at present in the little hamlet of DehiBahadur in the Mahmand territory; but the descendants on the side of his only son have long been extinct.

The poet's tomb may still be seen in the graveyard of his native village. Behold! such an Omnipotent Being is my God, That he is the possessor of all power, authority, and will. Should one enumerate all the most mighty, pure and eminent, My God is mightier, purer, and more eminent than all. No want, nor requirement of His, is dependent upon any one; Neither is my God under obligation, nor beholden to any. Out of nothingness He produced the form of entity; In such wise is my God the Creator and the Nourisher of all. He is the artist and the artificer of all and every created thing: My God is, likewise, the hearer of every word and accent. O RAHMAN! He is neither liable to change, nor to mutation My God is unchangeable and immutable, forever and ever!

On another occasion he wrote :

“Since thou passest thy days in jollity and thy nights in slumber, When, O unfortunate! wilt thou bring the Almighty to mind. The departure, if thou art aware, will be extremely precipitate, Be not, then, unmindful of the exceeding shortness of life! Thy breath and thy footsteps here are all, all computed; Therefore step not on this path inconsiderately and in error. In the book, the Almighty hath sent a statement of the account: See, then, thou make thyself with both account and book acquainted. Today that thou runnest to the shade for shelter from the sun: When it stands but a spear's height above thee, what wilt thou do; acquiesce not, O RAHMAN! in causing affliction unto any one, If thou desirest salvation from the torments to come